Dear Colleagues and Friends,

Welcome to the website of the UNESCO Chair for Comparative Research on cultural diversity and Social Justice based at Deakin University and hosted by the Alfred Deakin Institute for Citizenship and Globalisation.

I have the honour of being the holder of this important UNESCO Chair, whose research program, dissemination activities and public engagements will transcend the Centre, the university and Australia to touch the lives of fellow human beings across the globe, in particular those in various parts of North Africa, the Middle East and South Asia.

UNESCO Chairs serve as prime vehicles for building higher institutions’ capacity in specific areas of scholarship through exchange, collaboration, knowledge transfer and sharing in the spirit of international solidarity. Through this particular Chair, we aim to form a proactive research program that functions as a leading ‘think tank’ on all issues pertaining to cultural diversity and social justice. The Chair aims to act as a key bridge builder between researchers, civil society organisations and policy makers, both nationally and internationally.

Premised on a social justice and human rights-based approach, the Chair’s agenda contributes to capacity building in the key areas of governance, education and the management of cultural diversity both in Australia and internationally. The Chair-holder and his team initiate and coordinate collaborative research on youth from vulnerable communities and least developed countries, focussing on the critical questions of marginalisation, social exclusion, identity formation, discrimination, radicalisation, violence and security.

UNESCO promotes the values of tolerance and understanding through dialogue, in the pursuit of peace and human development. Recognition of diversity and social justice constitute the foundation upon which such goals are conceptualized, pursued and achieved. The work of this Chair is underpinned by a vision of culture as a key tool (a genuine fourth pillar) for sustainable development and as a conduit for achieving ethical engagement with and solidarity between various communities and cultures.

Cultural Diversity and Social Justice represent a fundamental part of UNESCO’s priorities but also an increasingly important dimension of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) post 2015. The challenge, however, remains as to how best to accommodate and support cultural diversity, with its underlying notion of ‘difference’, whilst maintaining an over-arching social peace and a genuine sense of belonging within broader society. The work of this Chair aims to contribute to this critical endeavour.

Alfred Deakin Professor Fethi Mansouri

UNESCO Chair, Cultural Diversity and Social Justice

Deakin University, Australia